Five Things You Need To Know About Fitness

gym selfie2a

I’ve told you before that my mind is busy.

Like, so busy.

And earlier this week I got going on a topic (all in my head, mind you) that I feel strongly about. I literally spent an entire morning getting myself worked up over all of the fitness lies and myths we’re subjected to every day here on the internet. I went to town, pinning a bunch of stuff on pinterest with false fitness claims that are basically strictly meant to be sensational enough to get you to pin them and eventually visit the website, so then  you can subsequently click on their ads and make them money. Most of them, not caring in the least whether they actually help you get fit or not. It’s just business. If I sound a little bitter, I may just be.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this rare gym selfie on instagram

gym selfie2

and wrote this to go with it:

Posting a rare gym selfie, as awkward as it feels for me, because…….because I’ve been thinking about how 14 years ago I weighed almost 300 pounds. And I’ve been thinking how it was a long and slow process for me to get to where I am today. I’ve sort of stopped talking about my weight loss, because in this day and age, it’s so easy to find people all over the Net with stories that are way more inspiring. You know the ones, the people who have completely transformed themselves in less than a year’s time…….amazing ‘before and afters’ that make us want to see those kind of results. I want to take nothing away from those stories as those are journeys unique to those people. Here’s what I do want to say: I really wouldn’t trade their stories for mine in a million years because while the changes on the outside came so slowly for the most part, there were changes going on inside me. There was character being built. There were wounds being healed. Changes were happening. And all in timing that I now realize was perfect. I’m posting all of this to encourage you in 2 things: First, if you’d like to get healthier, you could start today in small ways, with small changes. And maybe at the end of the year you’ll be only 10 pounds lighter, but you’ll be healthier & fitter & know you spent the year heading down a path that will eventually arrive at the destination you someday hope for. Second, I know firsthand that people can and will be very judgmental at times. If they see your progress is slow, they will delight in picking apart what you’re doing. I speak from experience. Never mind them. You know where you’ve come from and you know where you’re headed. Look them dead in the eye, nod at whatever unsolicited advice they’re giving, or disguised insult they’re throwing at you, and mentally tell them you’ll talk to them in a few years and see where you both are. If you stay the course, you’ll be better, but will they? Time is going to pass one way or the other, so why not decide to start now, however long it may take……XO
So, Yeah. It has taken 14 years to get to where I am from 300 pounds. The journey has been long. And real. And absolutely FULL of learning.
I’m not a fitness professional. I think in some ways I’m something better. I think of myself as having figurative “squatter’s rights” in the land of fitness. I’m someone who was once obese. I know the struggles of having a LOT of weight to lose. I’m someone who has spent almost a decade and a half in all sorts of fitness classes, with trainers, in different kinds of gyms, trying different home workout videos, reading books on fitness, and just otherwise observing people in and out of the gym. And I’ll say it again. I’ve learned A LOT.
After a 14 year journey, there  are 2 reasons pins/blog posts with DUMB claims make me almost violent (all inside my head, mind you)
A) Once upon a time, I believed it all. And it was discouraging. And in some ways it made my road to losing the weight that much longer.
B) I fear that other women (and men) believe it all. And it’s discouraging. And it becomes a stumbling block to adopting a lifestyle of just being fit (as opposed to obtaining goals that are unachievable)
Here are just a few of the ridiculous claims that I ran into in a short 10 MINUTE span on pinterest yesterday:
~”2 weeks to an absolutely amazing core” accompanied by a picture of someone who has probably not left her teens and who definitely ate less calories all of last week than I ate for breakfast. 2 Weeks? Uuuuummmm, just NO.
~”7 effective tips to get rid of cellulite fast” unless the tips include  such suggestions as photoshop , being 12 years old, and perfect lighting, talk to the hand cuz the girl ain’t listening.
~”How to beat back fat” and “9 moves to shrink your muffin top” Of course, accompanied again by pictures of well lit, photoshopped images of girls who clearly LIVE, eat and breathe fitness. And probably haven’t left their teens. ok. Repeat after me, people: There’s NO such thing as spot reducing. There’s NO such thing as spot reducing. There’s NO such thing as spot reducing……….
~Last but not least, and this one is my favorite:  “14 moves for the perfect bubble butt” (I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you what the picture looked like) Because yeah. When God was handing out genetics to all us women, he said “I’m going to make you all really wonderful and different. Except where the bubble butt is concerned. ALL my girls get the genetics for a bubble butt.” Cue the eyeroll.
Would all of these blog posts likely contain some exercises that would make you fitter and healthier? Most definitely. The problem  is that they all set unrealistic goals as the outcome of doing said exercises, because there’s no glamour (or blog traffic, or ad clicks) in them simply promising “Get fitter and healthier with these exercises”
I say all of this to say, if there 5 things that I didn’t once know about fitness, and 5 things that I think would be an encouragement to people trying to get fit it would be these:
1) All of the images you see on the internet are the best case scenario. They are people who stay fit for a living. They have amazing genetics. The images of them have been carefully lit to accentuate all of the right muscles. Maybe the image has even been photoshopped. I can tell you almost without wavering that if they are super ripped, they have depleted themselves of water before the photo shoot so that everything shows better.  So, next time you see a fitness image that makes you feel hopeless, just try to remember that if you saw that person on the street, it’s very likely that they will not even look a whole lot like the image that has been captured. And keep telling yourself this over and over again. I say this to myself,” self, isn’t that a lovely and artistic image of the beauty of muscles?”
2) You CANNOT look at someone else’s body and think that your body is going to look the same way after you do X,Y, and Z. Period. We are all so unique, so different, so fearfully & wonderfully made, but no 2 of us is alike. That’s one of the reasons I even hesitate to post pictures like the one above. That’s me: a combination of my genetics, my lifestyle, what I eat, and how I train. That won’t be you. But isn’t it a little exciting to think about YOUR best self? What you could look like with your genetics, your lifestyle, and whatever level of fitness you hope to achieve? Yes. Very Cool. You are a work of art, unique and special.
3) It all takes time. Repeat after me: IT ALL TAKES TIME.  There is no quick fix to getting fit and building muscle. Especially if you’re going to work it into your life in a way that makes it so that it FITS, and fits for good. Give it time. And trust the process. Maybe it will seem like the changes on the outside are too slow or even non existent, but trust that if you’re doing the right things, good changes are happening on the inside.
4)You need to find the right thing for you. Weights are my thing. I absolutely LOVE weight training. I read about it, think about it, and talk about it with passion. It’s definitely my thing, and yet I SO get that it’s not everyone’s thing. You need to find out what it is that you enjoy and what also fits into the life that you live. It’s not the same for all of us and I wish we could all stop acting like it should be. There is such an array of fitness classes, programs, and even just active recreational activities that I KNOW there’s something out there for you that not only will feel less miserable, but that you’ll actually enjoy and look forward to. We need to stop trying to wedge ourselves into the same fitness mold.
5)There IS value in exercising even if you’re not ready to diet. *GASP* yeah, I said it. Because I lived it. There were many times in the past 14 years when I was still working out faithfully, but wasn’t careful with my diet. What good did that do, you ask? Well, first of all, I was in the habit of exercise. It was a lifestyle and no matter what I was eating or how much weight I still wanted to lose, I was in the habit of exercising (and quite vigorously, I might add.) Second, good things were happening on the inside. I was getting fitter and stronger even though I wasn’t losing any weight, because then when I did decide it was time to diet? Watch out, world. The habit of exercise was already in place and I was already fit enough to push harder in my workouts. So, you don’t hear it very often, but imma say it to you:  it’s ok to exercise and not diet.
That’s it, in a nutshell. I could literally go on for days, but I’d like to hear from you. What has your fitness journey been like Has any of this been an encouragement to you today or am I the only one who’s been discouraged by fitness images and lofty claims. You KNOW I love to hear from you. XO, Sara
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  1. That was a whole lot of sharing and all of it was perfect. Love you and my, God-given, bubble butt. 😉

  2. Inspiring and real…being realistic is key….. I often find myself discouraged by each and every fade diet, pill, and supplement we see in the media. I think if you’re a women, weight is and will continue to be a life-long hurdle…unless, of course, as you said, you have great genetics. Working out is the only way I find myself feeling better mentally and physically……It has helped me with joint pain, muscle aches, and over all self-esteem. I’m not a size six and I have to stop comparing myself to others, but at least I have now accepted the fact that change takes time….my goal is to work out three times a week…. I don’t have the time in my family’s schedule to do more at this point, however I’ve learned over the years, just like you, that it’s the small steps that make a lasting change. I don’t necessarily diet while working out either, just try my best to not over do it; avoid red meat and carbs… and when I don’t meet my weekly goal, I try hard not to beat myself up and become discouraged to the point of quitting all together; like I’ve done in the past so many times when I set unrealistic goals.
    Thank you for sharing Sara, it’s truly so nice to finally read something real about fitness for a change!

  3. I’ve struggled with weight myself for 40 years. Up, down, up again. Just put on 25 this year, although being in a wheelchair and crutches for 3 months did not help. I’m working it down. Lost 2 lbs in January and I know from experience that slow is the right way. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to give it a try. (need to lose 60 total) which is nothing compared to what you did. There is no quick fix, I agree. I love that you are putting it out there for those who might think there is an instant cure. It took time to put it on and it actually takes longer to take it off and a lot of work to keep it off. You go girl!

  4. love everything you said Sara! I loved especially what you said about the photoshopped images and all. All our bodies are different and mine, has never been the same after having 3 kids, especially with the last one being a c-section and having scar tissue that will probably never allow me a flat stomach again no matter what I did. Sometimes I see those adds and get frustrated. When you think of it as you have put it really takes some of those negative feelings away. I also love your idea of finding what works for you. I love all kinds of fitness. Outdoor activities are my favorite. I love kayaking, mountain biking and hiking in the sping-fall and of course snowboarding in the winter. I am not a gym person at all, although I love weights, boxing and general workouts, as long as I am doing them at home! LOL I always feel the most important thing is to be active doing something you love.

  5. You are an amazing wife, and I love you more every day. I love to read your posts and get to know you better from them, because I sometimes am so pre occupied with business I sometimes have a difficult time focusing on the things in life which matter most, which by the way are not things. I have watched you over your journey and I am amazed at who you have become as you travelled it. I am so proud of you and your world class discipline! This post is worth more than the entire library of crap magazines and their advice (Muscle and Fitness, Flex……etc). I have a hard time believing people are truly sincere and for real, but knowing you and being you husband for the last 15 years, you prove that there are some people out there who really are the same in public and in private. For that and so many more reasons I love you now and forever!

  6. Alicia Wiswell says:

    Loved reading all of this, so inspiring….and real,. Thanks for sharing:)

  7. I reread this today because I had a really crappy day at dance yesterday and needed a good talking to. My weight does not dictate my talent. It does not and it will not. I have one instructor who is fitness/gym obsessed. (she’s a Les Mills trainer) Dance wise, I can do a few things she can’t. But in the end I’ll never have a six pack or be a size 2. I’m ok with that and I’m sorry that she isn’t. It’s not fun to always be pushed in a way you are guaranteed to fail.

    • I’m sorry for your bad day, but SO glad this post brought you comfort and encouragement! Your weight doesn’t dictate ANYTHING! Not your talent, who you are, or what you can be in life! We’re all different and comparing ourselves to others is one of the worst things we can do. You’re better and stronger than she is. There may be a day when she’s no longer a 2 with a 6-pack and if that’s how she identifies herself and relates to the rest of the world, she’s going to be kinda lost. Thanks for stopping by. Let me Know if you EVER need a good talking to again! I’m here!!!

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